Improving your intonation with Lyrics: Chunking & Chanting

PART I: Chunking

We will apply what we learnt about Intonation & Stress:

  1. Pick one of the following Lyrics and print it out:
    • A1: What can I do (The Corrs) – Lyrics
    • A2: Enjoy the silence (Depeche Mode) – Lyrics
    • B1: Spending my time (Roxette) – Lyrics
    • B2: Dear Jessie (Madonna) – Lyrics
    • C1: Brand new day (Sting) – Lyrics
  2. Mark all the pauses with a forward slash (please note there’ll probably be a pause at the end of every line as it is a song). All the words between slashes are chunks of information that should be read in one go.
  3. Underline the content words (nouns, main verbs, adverbs, adjectives, and stressed words). Mind that you don’t need to understand the lyrics for the purposes of this exercise.
  4. Make sure you can pronounce all the content words by looking them up in a dictionary. Alternatively, you can use this Text-to-speech Reader to hear full sentences; or try this Online Converter to see the transcription of full sentences.
  5. Mark the linked words and those that are pronounced together using arrows, and practise saying them very quickly. You may want to try the technique of back-chaining, starting from the last sound and working up to the whole sound bit by bit. For example with ‘Where do you come from?’ you drill ‘fr∂m’ ‘k∧mfr∂m’ ‘dz-k∧mfr∂m’ ‘whe∂-dz-k∧mfr∂m’, until you get it right.
  6. Read the lyrics out loud -as if it was a poem- until satisfied: stressing all the content words and gliding over function words (articles, determiners, auxiliaries, linking words, and prepositions). Remember not to make unnecessary pauses and be mindful of your pronunciation.

PART II: Chanting

  1. Now listen to the video clip by clicking on one of the following links:
  2. Listen to and repeat every single line by pausing the song and miming the original intonation. Remember not to make unnecessary pauses, and be mindful of your pronunciation.
  3. Film yourself singing the song, upload it on YouTube, and go viral 🙂

PART III: Rapping

  1. Below are a few clips with short rap verses:
  2. Try rapping these verses until you get them right.
      • When I flick the switch, make your hips wanna dip
        Now I can get you off ’cause I’m ready and equipped
        Now swing for me baby, give me all that you got
        Never wanna stop ’cause you make me feel hot
        I know what you wanna do and that I feel the same way too
        Give you what you want through the days and the nights
        Yeah, it’s about time that we turned out the light
    • ALL RISE:
      • So step back ’cause you don’t know this cat
        I know deep down that
        You don’t want me to react
        I lay low
        Leaving all my options open
        The decision of the jury
        Has not been spoken
        Step in my house
        You find that your stuff has gone
        But in reality to whom
        Does the stuff belong?
        I bring you into court
        To preach my order
        And you know that
        You overstep the border
      • Who killing them in the UK?
        Everybody going to say “You, K!”
        Reluctantly, because most of this press don’t fuck with me
        Estelle once said to me, “Cool down, down
        Don’t act a fool now, now.”
        I always act a fool ow, ow
        Ain’t nothing new now, now
        He crazy, I know what you thinking
        Ribena, I know what you’re drinking
        Rap singer, chain blinger
        Holler at the next chick soon as you’re blinking
        What’s your persona about this Americana rhymer?
        Am I shallow ‘cause all my clothes designer?
        Uh, dressed smart like a London bloke
        Before he speak his suit bespoke
        And you thought he was cute before
        Look at this pea coat, tell me he’s broke
        And I know you ain’t into all that
        I heard your lyrics, I feel your spirit
        But I still talk that ca-a-ash
        ‘Cause a lot of wags want to hear it
        And I’m feeling like Mike at his baddest
        Like The Pips at their gladdest
        And I know they love it
        So to hell with all that rubbish
  3. Do you want to create your own rap lyrics? Try out this Rap Generator.